The case of Mecca Masjid compensation
The Mecca Masjid blast and the subsequent police firing is considered to be one of the biggest turning points in the city of Hyderabad. After much deliberation and almost after 5 years, the government of Andhra Pradesh ordered the release of Rs. 70,00,000/- (Rupees Seventy lakhs only) towards expenditure to be incurred in connection with Confidence Building Measures and Compensation for 20 cases affected in Mecca Masjid Bomb Blasts in 2007.
This is something that the Muslim community in Hyderabad has been seeking, but going by the Government order they now say that there is still some confusion and there are many more recommendations that need to be implemented.
Lateef Mohammad Khan who has led this campaign for the Muslim youth who were wrongly detained after the Mecca Masjid blasts says that the government after a very long time first submitted a half hearted apology to the youth who were falsely implicated.
The state government has stated in its GO that Rs.70 lakh towards expenditure to be incurred in connection with confidence building measures and compensation for 20 cases affected in Makkah Masjid Blast in 2007. It is also written in the G.O. that the above expenditure is to be incurred from “Administration of Mecca Masjid and Shahi Masjid Public Garden”. Here we want to make it clear that the G.O. is itself confusing, unclear, unfair because in Mecca Masjid bomb blast the people who died in the blast were Muslims, who died in the subsequent police firing were Muslims and the youth who were illegally detained and tortured were Muslims. And now the money that would be paid for compensation to the victims of police torture is from the Mecca Masjid funds. All we want to ask is why are the funds not sanctioned from the Chief Minister’s fund?
Moreover why is there no mention of any action that needs to be taken against those guilty police officers who are responsible for the torture of the innocent Muslim youth.
The Muslims argue that the recommendations made by the National Commission for Minorities in this case have not been implemented by the Andhra Pradesh government.
The NCM report-
Failure of the police to observe the due process of law while investigating the three bomb blasts in Hyderabad in 2007. Examples of this alleged dereliction of duty include the following:
Disregarding established procedures, the police fired indiscriminately into the crowd fleeing the Mecca Masjid after the blasts which resulted in the death of at least six persons
The suspects were not allowed to inform relatives of their arrest
The suspects were bundled into cars without number-plates, blind- folded and illegally detained in farm houses and private lodges for several days where they were subjected to physical and mental torture. They were stripped naked, severely beaten, administered electric shocks on various parts of their body, including the genitals, and deprived of food and water. The police used abusive language about their women folk and their faith and forced them to hail Hindu deities.No lawyer was present during interrogation of the suspects. Detainees were not produced before a magistrate for remand within 24 hours of their detention. Instead, the time of arrest was shown as later than it actually took place merely to comply with the requirement of remand within 24 hours of arrest.
The suspects were produced before a magistrate after court hours at his residence. The magistrates never asked them if they had been tortured despite tell-tale marks of recent injuries
Some of the suspects had to undergo narco tests whose results have little evidentiary value but which resulted in physical and psychological damage to them. Incidentally, the AP High Court has banned narco tests.
Recommendation: In view of the seriousness of the allegations against the police, and the less-than satisfactory responses given by them, the NCM team urges the union government to direct the CBI to enquire into all the three incidents of bomb blasts in the city in 2007. As of now, only the Mecca Masjid blast case is being investigated by the CBI.
Urgent measures are also needed to address other major grievances of the Muslim community: better education facilities in Urdu schools, creation of job opportunities for Muslim youth, adequate representation for Muslims in government employment, and notably in the police force, compensation to families who lost their members in the blasts and an early settlement of the debate now raging in the community about the allegedly indiscriminate sale of Wafk properties. This last point is a cause of much alarm considering the allegations of grave irregularities which are tantamount to a multi-crore scandal.
The NCM team is of the view that the seriousness of the charges levelled against the authorities must not deflect attention from the gravity of the security situation in Andhra Pradesh. In a power-point presentation, the high-ranking police officials provided a detailed and comprehensive account of Jehadi activities in the state and their links abroad, notably in Pakistan and Bangladesh. While it is certainly not the intention of the team to dismiss the serious issues raised in this presentation out of hand, we are firmly of the view that, in their pursuit of the extremely important goal of bringing those involved in extremist and terrorist activities to book, the police must not jettison the due process of law. This would only result in driving Muslim youth into the arms of extremists and give a fillip to those engaged in actions detrimental to communal peace and harmony.